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Hi, everyone. I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com. A couple of months ago, I posted on Facebook about some problem I was having with some software or another, I actually, honestly forget what it was all about at the time, and I included the statement, you know, “name withheld”. I wasn’t going to mention the software that I was having troubles with, and somebody commented that they kind of wished that I would name the offending software.
It’s interesting, I typically don’t do negative reviews. Part of it is that I do want to maintain a kind of a more positive attitude around Ask Leo!. I much prefer to talk about things that I can endorse, or that I can recommend or that I’ve had good experiences with, but part of it too is that even talking about some software or some product that has perhaps a bad reputation or that I would dis-recommend, it’s giving them press.
It’s the old adage about even bad coverage is better than no coverage at all. I prefer instead to not mention them. I prefer not to have the keywords show up in links; I prefer not to give them backlinks to their software or to their websites. I just prefer not to talk about products and services that I don’t like.
Now as it turns out, I was reminded this week that there is, in fact, another reason that to be completely honest, really does indeed factor in to my decision not to talk about negatively about some products. Bleepingcomputer.com is a resource that I think I’ve pointed people at before.
It’s a well-respected and very helpful site on the internet. It’s a help website focused on helping people identify and recover from malware infections. They do more than that, but that’s their primary claim to fame, and in fact, a number of tools end up coming from bleepingcomputer.com, and like I said, I’ve recommended it; I’ve pointed people at Bleeping Computer on a fairly regular basis, because they actually do have some very good, in-depth help.
Unfortunately, apparently, Bleeping Computer is being sued. They are being sued because they allowed someone to post some negative comments about a product – a product that I’m not going to mention. The people who make that product, the company behind that product elected to sue Bleeping Computer.
So, one of the problems that we run into in the United States is that anybody can sue anybody else for just about any reason. Now, unfortunately, what that means is that people on the receiving end are faced with having to defend themselves even when they are absolutely right when they are very much in the clear.
The problem is these lawsuits become nuisance suits. They exist primarily for either of a couple of reasons: One, to basically bully someone into removing negative information as in this case here, or potentially to encourage them to settle out of court for some amount of money rather than going through the lengthy and much more painful and expensive and process of fully and completely defending yourself all the way to a trial and a presumed victory.
So as you can see, things are kind of stacked against Bleeping computer, if you will, in the sense that a company can come along, sue them, and all of a sudden Bleeping Computer, and sites like Bleeping Computer are faced with the potential of having to spend a lot of time and a lot of money defending themselves against something that, absolutely, they’re going to win – they’re in the right, but they still incur this extra overhead, this extra angst, if you will around having to even deal with something like this on any kind of an ongoing basis.
Like I said, it’s something we all face. Everybody who publishes on the internet runs the risk of basically becoming the target for an annoyance lawsuit like this. So Bleeping Computer, I’m not actually recommend that you donate to their cause. I’m going to leave that decision up to you.
It’s really up to you whether not you feel that this is something worth investing in. I will tell you that I’ve gone over to bleepingcomputer.com, I have donated to the legal defense fund, because as I said, this is something that I think Bleeping Computer has to face, sites like askleo.com run the risk of facing, and the best way we can prevent or at least discourage this kind of thing from happening in the future is to fully defend everybody who is faced with this kind of an issue when it comes up in the future.
So, that, like I said, it’s an unfortunate legality of the publishing world, and in fact, it factors in as one of the decision I make when I elect not to talk about a company. It’s not that I have this overwhelming fear of being sued, but the reality is it could happen and if it happens, it could be devastating to a site like Ask Leo! or Bleeping Computer. The bottom line is that this kind of thing can have dramatic ramifications on all the sites that are out there existing to try and help you.
So, go have a look at bleepingcomputer.com’s legal defense page. Donate if you think it’s the right thing to do. Like I said, it’s totally up to you. I feel strongly enough that I did, and I may again depending on how this thing progresses. I’m going to be keeping a very close eye on it. Because like I said, it affects us all.
As always, I’m very interested in what you have to say about this; what you have to say about this topic – your thoughts. Here’s the link if you are watching this anywhere but on Ask Leo!. Come visit me on askleo.com. Leave your comments; I read them all. Comments are moderated, so we won’t go off into the weeds on off-topic issues.
And let’s wish bleepingcomputer.com some luck!
Until next week, I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com. I’ll see you then.